Although some people believe that animal welfare and animal rights are synonymous, in fact these two philosophies are fundamentally contradictory. The American Veterinary Medical Association has defined animal welfare as "…a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling and, when necessary, humane euthanasia."  The animal welfare philosophy holds that it is both appropriate and necessary for humans to use animals for food, clothing, research, education, sport, recreation and companionship, as long as we do so responsibly and humanely.

In contrast, the animal rights philosophy rejects all animal use, no matter how humane, in the belief that animals are the same as humans in all important respects, and therefore have the same rights.  Animal welfare advocates accept responsibility for the humane treatment of the animals in their charge. In Greyhound racing, industry organizations and state regulators work together to ensure the health, safety and welfare of racing Greyhounds. Those who violate the rules of proper animal care can be banned from the industry for life.

In contrast, animal rights advocates often oppose animal welfare reforms because they are perceived as improving the conditions under which animal use occurs, making it more difficult to stimulate public opposition to animal use.

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